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05-08-2007, 05:06 PM
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The hunt for the cup!

What needs to be done?

New faces?

I am not comfortable to bring in size or toughness either up front or on defense, while it wouldn't hurt, through UFA. A new face will cost, the better he is the more he will cost. Size and toughness should be promoted from within, or through other cheap channels. Our buck needs to be put on hands that are hard to promote from within.

There are very few players on the UFA market that I would go into a bidding war for. One of them is Daniel Briere. He wuold make sense now and down the road. He is 29 y/o, though he might as well be 25. If we sign him to a 5 year deal, I would project it to be very safe that he will contribute at least as much year 5 as year 1. Briere have been one of the elite offensive players in this league the last 2 seasons. It looks like Buffalo will have to let one of Briere and Drury go, and with that team beeing on the brink of a dynasty a GW like Drury is worth more. If Briere don't really step up in the PO's, its possible that he only will take 6 million to get him signed.

He might not be a perfect fit for this team next season, but there is no perfect fit for this team next season on the market. And Nyls and Straka will soon be gone, with JJ in line, we will need talent. Scoring power. Players that can put us on the board on a regular basis. They are never easy to come by. We might got our chance now with Briere. He is one of the most lethal offensive players in the game.

He is not a franchise player, but 6m is nothing for a nr 2 offensive player these days. The fact that he only have broken out after the new rules, and that he haven't stepped up yet, could give us a good bargain. Normally a player like him would cost 7-8m, look at Richard and Datsyuk, 9m and 7m. If the cap goes up 6m for a player like him isn't much.

While Ryan Smyth, Gomez or Chris Drury maybe would cost as much, and maybe bring more for a cup run next season, I don't think they make as much sense down the road as Briere. Looking down the road we will have a ton of attitude and stuff like that, but we don't got that last touch offensivly that will make us a threat on a regular basis, someone that will lift others and put them on the board. I think thats the direction this league is heading. Look at Spezza and Alfie in Ottawa, and Buffalos team. Size and attitude, thats great, could make the diffrence in the end, but, without a ton of scoring you won't go anywhere. I don't think the teams that are successful will be so because they got a Scott Hannan. I think the teams that are successful wil be thoose with the most firepower. Thats why I am not willing to pay 6m for a defensive D, but for a 1-way offensive player.

I am also expecting Staal to win a spot in NY right away. And want to leave room for one of Dubinsky, Dawes and Korpikoski. A summer is allot for these kids, one of them will be ready.

Changes in philosophy:
I think its time for Renney to take another step. We need to adopt the Detroit in their prime way of rolling 4 lines. I am not talking about 10 minutes for the 4th instead of 7. We should create 4 lines that all can play, and play them equally, untill absolutely forced to do otherwise. Like down a goal and 5 to go. The order we start them will give the 1st a bit more then the 4th, since they are more likely to get in shifts before penaltys. Though the players that demands much ice time should get that on the PP, besides that they have to make do with what they get. Buffalo have gone all out with 3 offensive lines, I think its even better if you can have 4 that can win momentum.

Especially with our stars getting older we will need this. We can't afford to give players more ice time just to get them started. We can't afford to look at a individual and say that this player demands/must get more ice time then what he gets while rolling 4 lines. We must look at the team.

Here is how I would format the team, with comments behind my thinking:

Straka-Nyls-Jagr//Is not extremely effective, but give us momentum. Straka is great at that, getting the puck into the attacking zone. Just pushing the other team back is extremely important. It gets them off their game.
Avery-Dubinsky-Briere//My thinking here is that Briere really could jumpstart Dubinsky offensivly in the NHL. Both Dubi and Avery can shoot the puck, Daniel is a great passer, but can also finnish. I like the mix of one guy who can drive to the net, a center who can do a bit of both and a RW that would run the show. While Briere, who is a great set up player, may not play with the best shooter in Shanny, I think this is the best enviorment for him. Both Dubinsky and Avery works really hard, both hits, both got a ton of energy, that would open up ice for Briere. Thats what a player like him need.
Prucha-Cullen-Callahan//This line might not be a perfect fit offensivly. But they got tremendous energy. We would need that looking at how the rest of the team is set up. Cullen will probably be better from the get go with a longer summer.
Hossa-Betts-Shanahan//Shanny on the 4th? SHANNY ON THE 4TH?? We will playing Crosby 8 times. There will be many FO's late in games in our end. This is a line that is very aware defensivly. This is a big and tough line that would chip in with some goals. And when it comes to Shanny, he would get top minutes on the PP. I don't think he have been great 5 on 5 all season. I think this is the optimal way to use him. Late in games. On special teams. And defensivly 5 on 5. They can go up against any line in the league and hold their own, and will chip in with some offense. Can especially see them on the ice with 5 to go, when we are up a goal, against the other teams top line, and not only shut them down but score a important goal. If we play Toronto or Philadelphia and they start rolling on us, this is the line we play hard for like a 10 minute stretch. They got the size, they would still provide some offense.
Orr//The weakness IMO with my lineup is that there is no natrual position for Orr. Instead of Hossa? Nah. Prucha? Nah, and he wouldn't contribute at all for Cullen...

Staal-Rozsival//I think this is the "easiest" position on the team. Its also a perfect position for Staal. He would get involved both ways right away. He would play allot with the puck, and enough without it.
Tyutin-Mara//Would like to see this pairing since they would give us allot of offensive firepunch, could defenitly help the 2nd and 4th unit.
Malik-Girardi//I think these two would be good fit with the 3rd line. Defense first and that unit doesn't use their D's all that much in the offensive zone. Many will say, wait a minute, Malik? I think he contributes allot on the PK and late in games. He wouldn't be asked to do too much in a role like this.

Weekes/Valley/UFA// Don't think its wise to bring up Montoya yet, he needs more timme in the AHL. Think he develops more there.

1st PP unit
Mara-Cullen//Briere would give this unit a whole other dimension. Defenitly better suited for slow regular season game then JJ's unit.

2nd PP unit
Straka-Rozsival//When JJ is 125% on, play him till he dropps on the PP. But, in 2nd periods when we have started well and got a opertunity to put the game away, JJ isn't a perfect fit. He needs to be desperate, Nyls too.

PK units
1. Hossa-Betts-Malik-Girardi
2. Avery-Shanahan-Tyutin-Mara
3. Cullen-Callahan-Rozival-Staal

Bye, bye
Ryan Hollweg and Jed Ortmayer. Honestly sad to see you guys go. Though, if Shanny is comming back, and Betts, I don't see any room for Orts. I want Shanahan in his "role" 5 on 5, and other would have to step up on the PK. While Holly's hitting is something that we lack, I don't think its possible to spare one spot for that ability alone. Dubinsky can hit hard. Avery can hit. Callahan can hit. Prucha can hit. Shanny could atleast hit. They have to step up. We will see injurys, then someone like Byers could come in and hit. Though, we can't justifye Holly from my point of view. Another aspect is that Orts have stepped back, not up, in the playoffs for two staight years. When the gooing have gotten really tough he have dissapeared. I don't see that changing. If we are gooing for the cup next season, I don't see him playing a huge role. All 19 players that play must be able to be great in their specific role. Orts can be extremely useful, though I don't see him playing great in the PO's.

Last word
I think its absolutely essential for this team to have 4 solid lines if we are to have a remote shot at the cup. I could backfire if we drop Orts, and Shanny might struggle offensivly not playing with the best linemates ect. Our 1st might not be able to come through enough. But, the "safer" options, with 3 peaked lines and a 4th that can take some heat, would put us in the same position again. With Jagr and co running out of gas at this time of the year. Not in their legs necessary, but in his head. Without a doubt the penatlys was a result of beeing tired mentally and all the pressure. 4 lines that can play, if they all click, if that lets us cruise into the PO's, and if the young players can step up even more, might might might give us a shot at the Cup. I don't see another option.
I really like Ola's thinking here, and would probably amend my choice on the FA thread from Gomez to Briere on this thinking. My only concern about Briere is his production to date in the POs. Then again, Gomez wasn't at his best this year either.

The thing about rolling 4 speedy lines, is the likelihood your opponent will take dumb interference penalties, because they can't keep up.

Nice analysis, Ola!

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